By Erin DeGregorio and Currents News Staff
PROSPECT HEIGHTS — The nationwide “9 Days for Life” Novena, sponsored by the United States Catholic Conference of Bishop’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, has officially begun in the Diocese of Brooklyn. This year, the Novena is taking place from Jan. 21 to 29, providing parishioners with daily reflections and opportunities for prayers and actions to promote the respect of all human life.
“Every year, Diocese of Brooklyn parishioners attend the March for Life in Washington, D.C. to pray for an end to the tragedy of abortion. This year, due to the pandemic, the March for Life is virtual, so attendance was not possible,” said Father Joseph Gibino, vicar for Evangelization and Catechesis. “But, here in our Diocese, we can pray in communion for the protection of all human life, either at one of our Masses or through this year’s special Novena.”
On Jan. 21, the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph held the opening Mass for Life with strict health and safety guidelines put in place. Deacon John Cantirino from Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Windsor Terrace, who annually walks in the March for Life, attended the Mass to keep his tradition alive in a similar fashion. He believes the “9 Days for Life” Novena highlights Catholics’ commitment to proclaim the sanctity of life.
“It’s an issue that’s close to the heart of many Catholics, and really nothing’s going to stop them from constantly raising the issue of how sacred life is in all its forms, from beginning to natural death,” Deacon Cantirino said.
“These Masses you see across the country are a way of Catholics showing their solidarity in the teachings of the Church, and also showing a solidarity that they have with each other, with other non-Christians and non-Catholics.”
Bishop James Massa, auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn and rector at St. Joseph’s Seminary and College, traveled from Yonkers to celebrate the Mass. He noted that, although the March for Life usually draws thousands of people who give witness to life, this year’s change in presentation does not take away from the purpose.
“Our passion for the defense of life is no less vehement, no less committed,” Bishop Massa said. “We can be together through the power of prayer, uniting ourselves through the Mass, and through keeping the 9-day novena. That’s going to be our witness this year.”
Fred Trabulsi, executive director of the Life Center of New York in Bay Ridge, and his wife Damaris, who are parishioners of St. Patrick Parish in Bay Ridge, made sure they would be present for the novena’s kick-off.
“As we work in the pro-life field, we wanted to come and show support for Bishop [Nicholas DiMarzio] and pro-life in general — that life is sacred — and we really want to keep that up front,” Fred said.
Damaris, in the same vein, added: “The reason it’s important for us to be here is because we are recharging our batteries to go back out in the field and continue to help women choose life.”
According to the Trabulsis, the Life Center of New York was able to help save two babies during 2020 and two babies so far this year.
The annual Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children is being observed today, Jan. 22 — the day the Supreme Court handed down its decision in the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade case and its companion case, Doe v. Bolton.
The Novena’s closing Mass with Bishop DiMarzio will take place on Jan. 29 at 7:30 pm at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph. It will be available to watch live on NET TV online, Verizon Fios channel 548, Optimum channel 30, and Spectrum channel 97. For those who wish to attend the closing Mass in person, visit https://bit.ly/35QZoFG for more information.
For other information about the Novena, including how to participate, visit 9daysforlife.com or usccb.org/committees/pro-life-activities/join-9-days-life.